Undocumented immigrants play the waiting game after the White House pauses immigration action

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Carol Hills: I’m Carol Hills and you’re listening to The World. President Obama’s immigration plan remains on hold today after a federal judge in Texas ordered a temporary halt to the executive actions the president announced last November. Those actions would benefit millions of undocumented immigrants who either came to the US as children or are parents of US citizens. They would be eligible for work permits and temporary relief from deportation. The president says he will appeal the Texas ruling, but in the meantime potential applicants are back in limbo. Eleazar Valdez is one of those waiting. He came to the US from Mexico when he was just 13-years-old. Now he lives in Clovis, California. I asked him how he reacted to monday’s ruling.

 

Eleazar Valdez: You know, I felt like I got stabbed in the back. It was awful. It was the worst feeling because I was so close to achieving some of my goals. But with this little hiccup, it’s bad.

 

Hills: This halting of the plan, how will it affect you directly?

 

Valdez: I’ve been here most of my life. I’m 37-years-old; I came here when I was 13-years-old. So, I’m an American with no papers. I’ve had my whole life here--high school, college. It was going to be a benefit for me to be able to apply for a work permit so I could go and start teaching. I have a masters degree and because of this, I won’t be able to do it.

 

Hills: What do you have a masters in?

 

Valdez: I have a masters in latin american literature.

 

Hills: What sort of work are you doing now?

 

Valdez: Right now, I’m a photographer. My friends, they have babies, I go take pictures of them; birthdays, weddings. I cater for churches. That’s what I do. Clean houses. Whatever I have to do to pay the bills.

 

Hills: What brought you to the US? I know you came from Michoacán when you were 13. what brought you here?

 

Valdez: My mom was here, she came here in 1982, she came here for a better life. In Michoacán, she was working from 7 in the morning to midnight, taking care of 7 kids by herself. It was nothing easy for her. She thought coming over here would be better, and that’s why I ended up coming over here.

 

Hills: You came with her or you came later?

 

Valdez: We came later--8 years later.

 

Hills: And what do you remember about that journey when you were 13?

 

Valdez: I remember I took the bus on a thursday, 7 PM, and it was a bus ride to Tijuana from Michoacán. My sister got caught by immigration officers, she had to return to Mexico. I was able to escape with a smuggler. It was a very interesting adventure that I will never forget.

 

Hills: How has being undocumented affected your life up to this point?

 

Valdez: I feel like an American. I worry about my future, my retirement. I have no health insurance--if I get sick, I’ll have to deal with that. There are some times when I go to sleep, I’ll be honest with you, I say “I would like to go to sleep and never wake up” because to deal with this every single day is hard. I see my friends that are already professionals, and we went to college together--they already have their houses, their cars, with good pay, some are principals, teachers. Here I am, trying to do something.

 

Hills: You’re frustrated.

 

Valdez: Yeah, very frustrated.

 

Hills: When you think about the future, what are you hopeful for?

 

Valdez: Right now, I cannot see anything. It seems like when it’s getting closer for me to get something, it goes away all of a sudden. In my future, I would love to teach. That’s my passion, to teach literature, spanish, have a job, summers off, to travel. Then I would be happy.

 

Hills: Eleazar Valdez talking to us from his home in Clovis, California. Thanks a lot Eleazar.

 

Valdez: No problem Carol.